IMF loan “important” to Zambia: Finance Minister

30 Aug 2021

Zambia’s newly appointed Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane has stressed the importance of agreeing to a lending programme with the International Monetary Fund to bolster credit confidence and give the government cheaper and longer financing.

Musokotwane now faces the challenge of removing the country out of the lengthy debt crisis and has vowed to make talks with the IMF a priority.

During an interview with public broadcaster ZNBC, the Finance Minister said he was confident Zambia would acquire an IMF programme before the end of 2021 and subsequently restructure its debt.

The government has a $750m Eurobond due in 2022 but says it is unable to repay it.

“We don’t have the money to pay back. This is why it is important that we get on (an) IMF (programme) so that we can re-arrange not to pay next year. I am 100 percent confident that it will be done,” he stated.

As Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, Zambia became the continent’s first sovereign defaulter during the pandemic in November as it stopped servicing its $3 billion in Eurobonds as well as nearly all its external debt.

Rising copper prices will help Musokotwane’s task, as it accounts for over 70% of Zambia’s export earnings.

Hichilema’s administration is planning to more than double copper output to around two million metric tonnes per year by 2026, and to three million tonnes within a decade, Musokotwane added.

He stated: “We are going to push production of copper by creating a good environment for more investment. You will be amazed how much foreign exchange this country is going to make. You will not know what to do with the dollars that this country will be receiving.”

The Zambian Kwacha moved up on Friday for a third consecutive session to its strongest level against the Dollar since March last year, when the country said it would restructure its external debt.